If you work in an internet related field (programming, designing, administrating, etc) you’ve probably heard of the “micro-blogging” service Twitter. For those who don’t know what it is, Twitter is a social networking site where users share “Tweets” (140 character messages) with each other and the world at large. As is the case with many new internet technologies however, Twitter has it’s shortfalls, and it might not be long before newer micro-blogging services take over.
One such new micro-blogging service is identi.ca. Even though identi.ca doesn’t have as many users or features as Twitter (yet!), it does some things Twitter does not.
1) REALLY easy setup.
Identi.ca supports OpenID*. Since I already have an OpenID set up, I used it to register my new Identi.ca account. All I had to do was enter my OpenID, approve identi.ca, and choose a nickname. That’s IT! No adding mundane details like my name or e-mail address… all that was pulled from my OpenID automatically.
Of course, if you don’t have OpenID you can still register at Identi.ca normally, and the process looks simple and easy.
2) IM and Text Message support.
When I first started using twitter, I could “tweet” using an instant messaging program. Unfortunately, this functionality soon disappeared, with little explanation as to where it had gone or when it was coming back. Likewise, one of the strongest features of Twitter is the ability to receive tweets from people you’re following on your cell phone as text messages. In the USA this works fine, but here in Canada Twitter has had to disable the service due to excessive costs from the cell phone companies.
Identi.ca seems to have neatly avoided both problems. As of right now at least they have an IM service that works and they’re using e-mail to SMS for their text messaging. e-Mail to SMS doesn’t cost them anything - the fees are passed on to the user. I looked into it and for me it would be a $5 a month upgrade, or 15 cents per message received. This is a bit of a pain, but at least the option is there.
3) Interfaces with Twitter.
Identi.ca interfaces well with twitter, so if you’re switching over you don’t need to worry about people missing your Tweets. Just add your twitter username and password to Identi.ca, and anything you post to identi.ca is copied to Twitter. Win / Win!
4) Identi.ca is Open Source.
Rather than being a closed platform like Twitter, Identi.ca is built on open source software and works with an open source license. This, combined with support for FOAF files*, Microformats*, and OAuth* means that other webmasters can set up their own micro-blogging systems, and fully integrate back to Identi.ca.
In short, Identi.ca takes sharing what you’re doing right now to a whole new level, and its smart business plan and open licensing agreements mean that it will continue to expand long after Twitter has died. If you’re just thinking about getting into the micro-blogging world, take Identi.ca for a spin. As with Facebook / Myspace, sometimes in the internet world “the second mouse gets the cheese”.